House Offers $107B Budget Compromise
Hoping to end the stalemate over year-end budget bills, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) on Dec. 8 proposed spending $107 billion on federal education, labor and health programs in 2001, the Washington Times reports. Efforts to complete the FY 2001 budget have stalled, largely because of disagreements over the Labor-HHS appropriations bill (Godfrey, Washington Times, 12/9). Republicans have expressed concern over the Clinton administration's ergonomics rules, which would require businesses to protect employees from repetitive stress-related injuries and are contained in the Labor-HHS bill. However, Hastert spokesperson John Feehery said that the GOP had abandoned its demand for a provision that would allow the next president to repeal the rules. Feehery said, "The speaker said it's dead, that it's not going to happen." But highlighting the major hurdles facing a budget consensus, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) "insisted" that "ergonomics is still a major issue" for House Republicans. In addition, Hastert met on Dec. 8 with conservative members, who expressed concerns about "any Republican budget surrender to the White House" (Morgan, Washington Post, 12/9). Conservatives also expressed concerns about the ergonomics rules and increases to family planning funding favored by President Clinton (Earle, CongressDaily, 12/8). However, Hastert predicted a compromise, saying, "I think when the time comes we'll put everybody together to get it done" (Fram, AP/Miami Herald, 12/9). Meanwhile, the administration and Congress appeared to be moving toward agreement on a Medicare giveback measure that would restore nearly $32 billion to health providers, hospitals and HMOs (Bowman, Scripps Howard News Service/Memphis Commercial Appeal, 12/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.